Coffee culture and cycling have been associated for many years, whether it is the post-ride cafe stop or the shot of espresso before a race. The reason is as much cultural as performance oriented, as the consumption of caffeine has been shown to have numerous positive effects for racing cyclists.
Caffeine and exercise
It is about far more than just the traditional pick-me-up in the morning, with caffeine assisting in the utilisation of fat as an energy source, thereby assisting in glycogen sparing. In other words, when participating in an endurance event, it helps your fuel stores last longer before depletion, which can be a big help during a race.
With caffeine, timing and dosage are both very important when it comes to generating the desired effect, and this is where the IsoWhey Sports Caffeine + D-Ribose energy chews are really useful. Depending on how often you consume caffeine, whether through coffee, tea, or energy drinks, your body can have a greater or lesser response to its consumption. This means that being able to regulate the amount of caffeine you take in before an event can be the difference between no performance gains and jitters. With the variability in the amount of caffeine contained in a cup of coffee, depending on size, brewing method, et cetera, trying to manage your pre race caffeine intake accurately based on cups of coffee is a tough ask. The IsoWhey energy chews contain 25mg of caffeine per tablet, which means it is easy to experiment with different amounts until you find the right balance, as well as being a bit easier to take along to a race than an espresso machine.
The chews also contain D-Ribose, a simple sugar that plays a vital role in the regeneration of ATP, the basic fuel source for muscles. The body does manufacture its own ribose from glycogen, but it is not a quick process, which is why using ribose may help quicker regeneration of energy between hard bouts of sprinting.
The chews also contain CoQ10, which plays an important role in energy production, as well as having anti-oxidant functions.
The first thing that struck me about the chews was the wonderful caramel smell when I opened the container. Sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference, especially when it has to replace the wonderful smell of coffee! The chews are easy to eat, and sweet, so please follow the directions and keep these out of the reach of children, as they will in all likelihood eat these like candy should they ever get hold of them. Caffeine and kids do not mix, and caffeine use is strongly discouraged for growing children. As noted on the packaging, these are for adult use only.
The chews are certainly more convenient than a cup of coffee, and much more pleasant than the cold espressos I have occasionally taken to races with me. As for the effect of the chews, I have sufficient experience with caffeine that I know my sensitivity level, so I have been able to regulate the number of tablets so as to avoid jitters while getting all the positive effects of caffeine consumption. For reference, a shot of espresso contains around 65mg of caffeine, or just a touch less than the 75mg contained in three chews. The suggested consumption is up to four chews daily prior to exercise, although again this would depend on your sensitivity to coffee. In my case I found three to be a good option.
Without time spent in the lab it is difficult to comment on performance gains, especially as caffeine, in one form or another, has been part of my pre-race routine for years. However, I have found these a very convenient and viable alternative to the pre-race cup of coffee, with the additional ingredients also showing promise in terms of further gains. I will definitely be adding these to my race bag, for at the very least it will reduce the likelihood of coffee stains in my car while at the same time allowing me to use a measured dose of caffeine rather than trying to count sips of coffee.